In honor of the Super Bowl, I thought I’d flag a story I thought was true but turned out to be just another myth regurgitated by media and others. In this case, it’s that supposed statistic about domestic violence spiking on Super Bowl Sunday. Turns out – not true.
The claim that Super Bowl Sunday is “the biggest day of the year for violence against women” demonstrates how easily an idea congruous with what people want to believe can be implanted in the public consciousness and anointed as “fact” even when it has been fabricated out of whole cloth.
Domestic violence has been a problem all too often ignored, covered up, and swept under the rug. Many well-intentioned and successful efforts have been made in the last few decades to bring the issue to public attention – to get the word out to women that they need not suffer silent, helpless, and alone; to advertise that there are organizations victims can turn to for help and support; and to educate others in spotting the signs of abuse. Unfortunately, nearly every cause will encompass a sub-group of advocates who, either through deliberate disingenuousness or earnest gullibility, end up spreading “noble lies” in the furtherance of that cause. The myth of Super Bowl Sunday violence is one such noble lie.
Trudy Schuett has the time line of how the myth got into the public consciousness and some of the ways it has been recycled even after it was debunked. (Though, I have to say the end of the linked editorial has me a little skeptical of the writer’s intent.)